Biology Initiative Eases Transfer Experience

A pilot program in the biology department is championing new ways to create a smooth transition for transfer students coming to UCF.

The centerpiece of the program is Transfer Advisory Peers, or TAPS, who pair up with incoming transfer students and offer guidance on everything from study spots to the best coffee on campus.

“Having someone with insider knowledge, who can guide you around this massive campus is really the key here,” said Biology Associate Lecturer Christa Diercksen, Ph.D., who is pioneering the program alongside Assistant Professor Michelle Gaither, Ph.D.

The program is still in the development stages, but Gaither and Diercksen believe it will be especially helpful for students coming from smaller community colleges.

“New students are missing two years of being connected to campus culture, so we think peers can help them more in that regard than we can as faculty,” said Diercksen.

Julie Sharpe is a senior studying general biology and a peer mentor in the program.

“I do believe if I had been a part of this program when I first came here I may have acclimated to the university faster and with more confidence,” said Sharpe. “I remember the hesitation I had joining clubs or responding to services, and the anxiety of not knowing what to do.”

Gaither and Diercksen also developed a Webcourses page for students that condenses campus-wide resources like Knights Pantry, clubs, student government and financial aid into one place.

They hope to add more components to the program in the future, such as saving seats in upper level courses and a new 3000 level course exclusively for transfer students. They would also like for faculty to know which of their students are transfers to help with advising.

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